Child Support Agency IT system 10 years late

Plagued with technical hitches…

Plagued with technical hitches…

The government has admitted it will not finish inputting all child-maintenance-claim cases onto the new Child Support Agency (CSA) computer system until 2013 - a decade after it was built.

The agency's CS2 computer system, which was built by EDS, has been plagued with technical problems since it was launched in 2003, with latest figures estimating it will have cost £1.1bn to implement.

Now - after system faults led the government to suspend bulk updates - work and pensions minister James Plaskitt said mass updates to the CS2 system will not resume until 2010 and it is likely to take three years to add every case.

For years, bugs in CS2 have prevented the transfer of cases from the old system and thousands of cases required manual intervention to unlock them after becoming "stuck".

Delays in processing claims meant that in 2006 there was still £3.5bn of outstanding maintenance payments to be collected, with only one in three parents receiving any payment.

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The CSA was branded one of the "worst public administration scandals in modern times" by MPs in 2006 and was axed following a review by Sir David Henshaw.

Henshaw's report said a new organisation should be established to start from scratch and not be contaminated with system difficulties from the past.

The Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill sets out proposals for a new system of child maintenance to be in place by 2010.

In his written answer to Parliament, Plaskitt said: "By the end of 2008, parents will have an option to agree arrangements between themselves and move into voluntary maintenance arrangements, no one will be compelled to stay in either scheme."

He added: "For those who choose to remain with the commission and the new system of child maintenance we expect the case transfer process to start in 2010 and take around three years.

"During this period, parents will continue to have the opportunity to move to their own arrangements or, for those parents who are satisfied with their existing arrangements to continue with them, supported by a new simple cash transfer service based on the success of the current maintenance direct option."

The Department for Work and Pensions failed to respond to repeated requests for comment.